2012-13 Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Sept. 24, 2012
2012-13 Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Sept. 24, 2012
I. Roll – The following senators were absent: Scherr and Simos. Guests were John Aber, Lisa MacFarlane and Sonic Woytonik.
II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost handed out copies of the 9/3/2012 revision of the Policy on Interdisciplinary Schools at UNH. He recapped the history of interest in a new schools policy, starting in 2003 with certain parts of the Academic Plan, work on a definition of colleges and schools, a study group on a proposal for a marine school, parts of the Strategic Plan, the summer retreat which discussed combining studies in different colleges, last year’s proposed policy on interdisciplinary schools which went to UCAPC and then to the senate for recommendations, and the 5/7/2012 Faculty Senate motions XVI-M23 and XVI-M24 on the proposed general schools policy and marine school policy. This summer, wording from the senate motion on general schools policy and suggestions from the Agenda Committee were included in the draft. The provost said that this is a good example of shared governance and that many concerns have thus been addressed. There are concerns about the undergraduate mission, revenues which some fear might go to schools from departments and colleges, and whether there will be any harm to departments in other ways such as loss of faculty time for teaching needs.
Recent changes in the proposed general schools policy include the fourth bullet in item II, which now has an added phrase specifically excluding disciplinary majors and says that: “Schools can be the organizational home of a limited number of undergraduate minors, options, or dual majors, but not disciplinary majors, which would retain their location in the Departments.” The provost agreed today that the following sentence in the middle of item III.A should be changed: “Proposals for new degrees or majors housed within the Schools will follow existing approval protocols including review by the relevant College Executive Committees and Deans.” The provost said that, for any joint appointment, there will be a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which will describe how revenues will be divided and how faculty will be paid. The policy document also states that: “Research and clinical faculty may have primary appointments within Schools” and that: “Schools will offer enrichment opportunities to undergraduates, but will not detract from or reduce support for undergraduate education.” A phrase about reporting to central administration units was deleted. Near the beginning of item III.B, there is a new statement about an Advisory Council as follows: “Each School will have an Advisory Council composed of Deans and Directors of the RC units affected by the School, and others as appointed by the Provost.” Today the provost agreed that subsequent references to the “Advisory Committee”, such as in the first paragraph of item III.E should be changed to “Advisory Council”. As stated in the third paragraph of item III.B, “The goal of the membership policy for Schools is to encourage broad participation by faculty from all across the University.” The provost said that the proposed schools policy is about faculty success and about increasing the revenue pie rather than dividing it.
The fourth paragraph of item III.B now includes references to department chairs in a sentence stating that: “Deans and Chairs will continue to be responsible for overseeing faculty time commitments and any changes in teaching responsibilities will be negotiated and specified in an MOU signed by the School Director and relevant Dean(s) and Chair(s).” Since more budget specificity appeared to be needed, the next-to-last paragraph of item III.C begins: “The budget section of a School proposal must account for revenues with enough specificity that the School’s ability to be self-supporting is clear.” Item III.F also now has more specific language about review of performance and goals. The provost said that the conversation on this policy has been a good one, and he thanked the Faculty Senate and the Agenda Committee for their work on this. He added that this general schools policy does not mean that there will necessarily be any new schools. The policy establishes a basis and framework for such schools, which are a faculty effort.
Regarding the fifth bullet in item II, which states that “Graduate degrees would continue to be granted by the Graduate School, but could be developed and administered by Schools”, a senator asked: if colleges cannot administer their own graduate degrees, why can schools do that? The provost replied that this meant to say that schools would develop and propose their own graduate degrees, using the same method as in the past. Should the word “administered” be deleted or changed to “propose”? How tuition revenues get proportioned would be stated in an MOU. The Executive Committee would administer the degree programs, and the Advisory Council would be an extra level of oversight for schools. The provost agreed that, since the appropriate dean(s) would sit on the Advisory Council, the fourth sentence of item E should be changed to: “The Director will also develop an annual budget for the School, to be reviewed by the Advisory Committee and submitted for final approval by the Provost”, thus removing a redundant reference to “through the reporting structure”. The provost said that organizations thrive when people recognize the skills and abilities of their colleagues and work to enhance them. The provost said that a school might help defray the cost of courses taught in the school and that the money flows according to agreed-upon formulas. He added that monies to schools will not come from undergraduate courses. He said that revenues from a course offered by a school would go to pay the instructor, with any extra going to the school.
A senator said that the director of the school would be paid a salary equal to that of two or three faculty members combined, and yet UNH is having trouble delivering needed courses now, due to budget cuts. The provost replied that the individual school proposals will have to address that and will have to make the deans believe that the proposed school will be worthwhile. He added that whether or not to have associate directors and assistant directors would depend on the individual school proposals. For example there might be an assistant director of facilities, and there might be someone to oversee graduate courses. Another senator responded that this would be very costly. The provost replied that the school proposal would have to define revenue to fund any such positions from within the school. A professor said that, although a three-to-five-year budget projection is required for school proposals, grants only offer short-term funds but may be included in the budget projection. The sunset policy is stated in the last sentence of the general schools policy as follows: “Failure to meet stated goals for either academic or financial performance will result in proposals to maintain, scale back, or eliminate the School, or to identify alternative funding sources should the initiative be maintained without reaching anticipated levels of revenue.” The provost added that schools will be entrepreneurial entities and will not have the guarantee that the colleges have. Centers come and go, but the college structure is dictated by law. He said that the Marine Program at UNH has existed for forty years. A senator said that, since schools will not be RCM units, any school will have one or more dean(s) who will participate in approving funding and expenditures. A senator commented on the “squishiness” of MOUs and said that everything seems to be cloaked by that. He added that we should have that be more transparent. The provost replied that more transparency would be fine with him and that he hopes that the senate will approve the general schools policy in a timely fashion.
III. Remarks by and questions to Lisa MacFarlane on the reaccreditation process – Lisa MacFarlane said that the United States has a regional accreditation system with ten regions and that UNH is in the New England Region. Higher education in this country is under increased scrutiny, and the accreditation system is a way to counter this pressure. Accreditation is a voluntary peer review with a series of standards. The eleven NEASC standards are: mission and purposes, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, the academic program, faculty, students, the library and other information resources, the physical and technological resources, financial resources, public disclosure, and integrity. UNH must describe in detail what it does and analyze how the work is done, and goals must be established for any areas of concern. UNH has 128 members on its NEASC standards committees, including fifty-four faculty from across the university. Standard committee four on the academic program has thirteen faculty members. There are students on most of the standards committees as well.
All of the committees are about finished with data gathering, initial analysis of the data, and first drafts. When the first drafts are ready, Lisa MacFarlane will create a single document with one voice. There will be about one hundred pages of text. In January, that draft will be referred to the whole university community for review. NEASC requires good community participation, and that will happen from January to March, via fora and meetings with the constituent groups and the Faculty Senate. The draft will be a descriptive document, not an aspirational one, although NEASC expects that our analysis will result in achievable projections. Faculty should be prepared to read the whole draft before spring break and give input. If you are aware of any groups which are not included, please contact Lisa MacFarlane. After that process of input is complete by the end of March, she will revise the draft; and then there will be additional opportunity for comment and modification. Next the draft goes to NEASC for comment, after which UNH can revise the document, which must be submitted to NEASC in the beginning of the summer. NEASC responds within one month, by the end of June. UNH then has July and August to finalize the document and resubmit it to NEASC by September 1. The visitation committee will be at UNH from November 3 through 6 of 2013, and the visitors want to insure that the document accurately represents the university. The document will be submitted to the university president for input, and the process will be completed in the spring of 2014.
Today Lisa MacFarlane asked that faculty give data, read the drafts, and provide comments. Departments will have to collect material to demonstrate student outcomes. The chair of the NEASC visiting committee will visit the UNH president in the spring. Although there may not be much overt continuity with the previous accreditation, the university will keep the last accreditation document in mind when preparing the current document and will try to show clearly that we have made a good faith effort to improve, especially in the area of documenting student outcomes. Because of the diverse programming at UNH, the university has set up a large database for the documentation of student learning assessment. UNH is in the eighty-fourth percentile of the Collegiate Learning Assessment. If a university has any weak areas, the accreditation process will flag them and set up a timeline for improvement. UNH has good policies in general and expects to do well. UNH wants to improve its tracking of alumni. Lisa MacFarlane expects that UNH will receive a ten-year accreditation with a five-year interim report. The recent cut in funding by the state should not be held against UNH during accreditation. This accreditation covers UNH only, as the other USNH institutions are accredited separately. Please email Lisa MacFarlane with any questions or concerns.
IV. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that he hopes the senate committees are actively working on their charges now. The senate will move to a new meeting room in Hamilton Smith Hall in January, due to planned repairs to the current building. The Agenda Committee spoke last week with the dean of the Graduate School. A drop in graduate student enrollment has occurred. Last spring, the Faculty Senate passed motions to set up two new ad-hoc committees, which are the Teaching Evaluation Form Implementation Committee and the Promotion and Tenure Standards Oversight Committee. The senate asked the deans to hold elections for the faculty representatives to these committees from each college, but the deans have not done so. The Agenda Committee is working to resolve this problem. The deans were also asked to provide administrative members as well.
V. Minutes – The minutes of the last senate meeting were approved with all ayes except for two abstentions, with a modification to change the second sentence of item VI to: “I move that we accept the Policy on Interdisciplinary Schools at UNH for a vote.”
VI Motion on the membership of the Writing Committee – On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Larry Prelli proposed a motion with a rationale as follows: “On 11/27/1995, the Academic Senate passed a motion to revise the university writing requirement and to set up a Writing Committee with representation which included one representative from the General Education Committee. That committee will be superseded by the Discovery Committee.” The motion is as follows: “The Faculty Senate moves to change the membership of the Writing Committee to include a member of the Discovery Committee and, during any interim period, a member from the General Education Committee as well.” The senate chair said that the General Education Committee no longer exists. The registrar handles most petitions that would have gone to that committee and brings questionable ones to the Academic Standards and Advising Committee. A friendly amendment was made and accepted to modify the motion to: “The Faculty Senate moves to change the membership of the Writing Committee to include a member of the Discovery Committee rather than a member from the General Education Committee.” The final motion passed unanimously.
VII. Motion on general schools policy – A senator said that the third sentence of item III.C in the proposed general schools policy stated that “Initial Financial resources allocated to Schools will be determined by the Provost and the Dean(s)/Director(s) of all affected units.” The senator added that the final decision on such financial resources would be done by the provost, since the deans and directors work for him. By creating schools we would be expanding the administration, and we should not do that in this time of financial cutbacks. Adding new administrators could deplete the faculty that do the teaching in the departments, and more adjunct faculty might be hired instead of tenure track faculty. Another senator added that the director of the school will no longer be teaching and that, even though there will be review every five years, schools which do not bring in the expected revenue will not be disbanded for a long time. The senator asked: what is it about schools that we cannot do already with the present system? We have faculty throughout the university who are doing interdisciplinary work. The schools will be a huge bureaucracy and a huge expense. Another professor said that, without stronger safeguards, there may be a zero sum game and that expenses of schools may be borne by the colleges and departments. Creating a new entity which draws on time and funds from colleges and departments without the departments having the ability to say “no” is a bad idea. Also, how can a department’s Promotion and Tenure Committee evaluate a faculty member who does not teach in the department? What performance metrics in the review will be used, if any?
The senate vice chair pointed out that there are a number of references to MOUs in the document and said that the fifth sentence in the first paragraph of item III.C should be changed to: “Clear MOUs describing the financial arrangements between the School and other units shall be developed at the time of establishment of a School”, thus changing “should” to the more definite “shall”. Another senator agreed with that and added that the next to last sentence in item III.A stating that “Budgets included in a proposal for a School will be clear, transparent and thorough, and will address potential impacts on related colleges, departments, institutes and centers” should include a specific reference to the financial impacts. A professor pointed out that the last sentence in item III.B says that: “All new faculty tenure-track hires for positions affiliated with or appointed jointly by Schools will be the product of consultation between the Director and the Deans and Departments, as well as the Provost.” Also, the last sentence in paragraph two of item III.B says that “Each School will have an Executive Committee chaired by the Director and consisting of core faculty and others as specified in the Proposal.”
A senator said that his department thinks that the proposed general schools policy is reasonable. He added that, if there is a zero sum game, the individual school should be voted down rather than the general policy. He also said that the policy has to include MOUs, because no policy can cover all eventualities that will evolve over time. Another senator said that her department sees the schools proposal as adding another layer and additional tasks for faculty. She said that the general schools proposal does not describe best practices learned from schools elsewhere and that she will vote no on the proposal. A professor said that the governing structure of the schools should be clarified. Will the Executive Committee report to the director who will report to the Advisory Council? Also, the proposal should be modified to make the language about primary appointments clearer, so that the AAUP contract is not given lip service only. A past senate chair asked that the proposal state explicitly that the undergraduate courses would remain in the departments. Although item III.A states that: “If curricula are involved, proposals will address their relationship to existing degree programs, and MOUs will be constructed addressing commitments within the College for meeting course offering requirements, and revenue allocation from tuition”, the professor said that currently some courses arise from other parts of the university than the primary department. Could the proposal state that current procedures will be followed in this regard, when a school is involved?
A senator said that an alternative to an up-or-down vote on the schools policy would be to make recommendations to strengthen perceived weaknesses of the proposed policy. The senate chair said that senators have given a number of suggestions today and that the senate should vote on the strongest general schools proposal possible. James Connell moved and Alberto Manalo seconded a motion to recommit the main motion to the Agenda Committee, to bring the senate’s concerns to the provost and then to bring a revised proposal for the general schools policy to the Faculty Senate at its next meeting. The past senate chair asked the senators to consult with their departmental colleagues and send to the Agenda Committee suggested wording which could help mitigate the concerns. The senate chair said that the Agenda Committee would move on this with all deliberate speed and asked the concerned senators to email to him language which would improve the proposal. A senator asked if the senate could add contingencies to the main motion, if needed, as was done in the motion the senate passed on the schools proposal last spring. The senate chair responded that either a revision or contingencies could happen but that the Agenda Committee would try for a revision of the proposed general schools policy. Then a senator spoke in favor of approving the general schools policy as it is, because a three to five-year budget is required and must state the expected revenues and because MOUs can add needed specifics. Senators should keep in mind that this would be a vote on the general schools policy and not on individual schools. A friendly amendment was proposed and accepted to recommit the main motion to the Agenda Committee for revision and/or contingences, i.e. a list of items that should be changed. The amended motion to recommit passed with a voice vote.
VIII. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.